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Thomas (T-17) comes up short in three-peat bid

By Will GrayOctober 15, 2017, 12:13 pm

For the first time in his career, Justin Thomas watched someone else leave town with the trophy at the CIMB Classic.

Thomas entered this week fresh off his Player of the Year and FedExCup titles, and he was returning to a course where he had set a tournament scoring record en route to his first career PGA Tour win in his 2015 debut and had successfully defended that title a year ago.

Thomas was looking to become the first player to win the same Tour event three years in a row since Steve Stricker pulled off the feat at the John Deere Classic from 2009-11. While Thomas has Stricker's former caddie, Jimmy Johnson, on the bag, he wobbled out of the gates and ultimately tied for 17th, 13 shots behind winner Pat Perez.

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"I was definitely low on gas. It's been a great but long year, for sure," Thomas told reporters. "I really played well the last two days, which was nice to see. I just didn't make enough putts and didn't capitalize on enough opportunities to have a really good finish. But I did the best I could, so that's all I could ask for."

Thomas' final-round 67 included seven birdies and marked his low score of the week at TPC Kuala Lumpur. But any hopes he had of retaining the title for a third straight year vanished earlier in the week, when he opened with rounds of 70-71 amid soft conditions.

Thomas was making his season debut just two weeks after starring at the Presidents Cup, and three weeks after his runner-up at the Tour Championship netted him the season-long title. He won't have much time to rest, as Thomas will be one of the headliners in the field next week at the inaugural CJ Cup in South Korea.

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Spieth: Only 'two older guys' have away scar tissue

By Will GraySeptember 26, 2018, 2:58 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Plenty has been made about the 25-year drought for American teams on European soil in the Ryder Cup. But according to Jordan Spieth, the errors of past squads are not a concern for the 12 men eager to end the dry spell at Le Golf National.

Spieth made his Ryder Cup debut four years ago in hostile territory at Gleneagles, going 2-1-1 in an event where the U.S. lost by five points. So he has some understanding of the gauntlet that awaits, experience that major champs like Brooks Koepka and Justin Thomas currently lack.

But in Spieth’s estimation, that lack of experience in away games could turn into a strength once the matches begin in earnest.

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“As far as our team’s concerned, there’s only a couple guys that have any kind of scar tissue on playing on away soil,” Spieth said. “And those guys have won a combined 120-something times and account for (19) majors.”

“Those guys” would be Tiger Woods, who is returning to the Ryder Cup as a player for the first time since 2012, and Phil Mickelson, who is making his 12th straight appearance. Both notched victories this year on the PGA Tour, including Woods’ triumph Sunday at the Tour Championship, making them two of the most decorated captain’s picks in tournament history.

Of the other 10 members on the squad, only Bubba Watson and Rickie Fowler have experienced multiple Ryder Cup defeats in Europe, having also been on the 2010 squad that lost in Wales. As for Woods and Mickelson, Spieth doesn’t expect them to need much guidance despite the fact that they have tasted as much success in Europe as their other less experienced teammates.

“I mean, we’re not worried about the two older guys on the team that have scar tissue,” Spieth said. “The rest of us are simply here and looking at this week as an opportunity for us to show that the golfers from the United States can beat the golfers from Europe, and we can do it over here. That’s the goal.”

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Podany named CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises

By Golf Channel DigitalSeptember 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Arnold Palmer organization announced Wednesday that Jon Podany has been appointed president of Arnold Palmer’s charitable foundation, Arnie’s Army, and CEO of Arnold Palmer Enterprises. Podany spent the last eight years at the LPGA, most recently as the tour’s chief commercial officer.

He’ll begin his new role on Oct. 15.

“This is an exciting time for the Arnold Palmer organization,” said Arnold Palmer organization chair Amy Palmer Saunders. “My father would be so pleased that the diverse companies he built alongside a dedicated team will be led by a person of great capability and character. Jon’s passion for the game of golf and the depth of his industry experience made him the clear choice to advance the Palmer family of businesses.”

Said Podany: “I am incredibly honored and excited to be joining the Arnold Palmer organization, which represents the very best the game has to offer in so many ways. Like so many others who have had the good fortune to work in the golf industry, I owe so much to Arnold Palmer and his family, both on and off the course.”

Podany, 53, joined the LPGA in 2010 shortly after Mike Whan began as the tour’s commissioner. As president and CEO in his new role, Podany will oversee Arnie’s Army and all businesses that comprise Arnold Palmer Enterprises, including the PGA Tour’s Arnold Palmer Invitational, the Arnold Palmer Cup, Arnold Palmer Design Company as well as the Bay Hill Club and Lodge and the Latrobe Country Club.

Before joining the LPGA, Podany spent 15 years at the PGA Tour as a senior vice president. He started his business career in 1987 at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. He’s a graduate of Miami (Ohio) University. He and his wife Julie have three daughters.

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Thomas: Wrist injury 'looks worse than it is'

By Rex HoggardSeptember 26, 2018, 2:45 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – Among the items of interest U.S. Ryder Cup captain Jim Furyk had coming into this week’s Ryder Cup was the health of Justin Thomas.

Although Thomas is a rookie on this year’s team he’s likely to be one of the American side’s key players if the team is going to end a victory drought in Europe that now stretches 25 years and when he was slowed by a case of tendinitis in his right wrist at the Tour Championship the captain took notice.

“The wrist, it's fine,” Thomas said. “Like I said last week, it looks worse than it is. It's just the white tape on top of the K.T. tape, it's more prevention. It's something to where it's not going to get any worse.”

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Thomas, who said he’s experienced no pain in his wrist the last two weeks and that the injury isn’t impacting his game, has played the last two days alongside Jordan Spieth and it seems likely the two will partner this week at Le Golf National.

Asked if he would be able to play all five sessions if he was asked by Furyk, Thomas’ response didn’t suggest he’s been slowed by the ailment.

“Could I play five matches? I'd play six if I could,” he smiled. “If [Furyk] needs me to go five, I'll go five. If he needs me to go two or three, I'll go two or three. Whatever it is, I'll be ready to go.”

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Simpson revisits 'the pop-up' to open '14 matches

By Will GraySeptember 26, 2018, 2:31 pm

SAINT-QUENTIN-EN-YVELINES, France – It remains, much to Webb Simpson’s dismay, one of the more memorable shots in recent Ryder Cup history.

Simpson had the burden of the first tee shot for the U.S. the last time the Ryder Cup was played in Europe, paired with Bubba Watson in the first morning fourball session at Gleneagles in 2014. With thousands watching, his 3-wood went sky high and, to Simpson’s generous estimate, 205 yards.

“Are you referring to the pop-up?” Simpson joked when a journalist asked him to revisit the moment.

It was the start of a regrettable match for Simpson and Watson, who never won a hole and were trounced by Justin Rose and Henrik Stenson, 5 and 4. But time heals all wounds, and given four years to reflect he’s now able to crack a smile about a swing where the setting clearly got the best of him.

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“That was a shot I had in my bag all year. It was like the fifth time I had done it,” Simpson said. “I was losing my concentration a little bit and I teed it up a little too high. I had done it a few other times that year. Usually it goes straight down, and that one went straight up. At least it hit the fairway.”

Simpson was relegated to a spectator for the 2016 matches, although he admitted he didn’t miss a shot and that the Patrick Reed-Rory McIlroy singles match drew both he and wife Dowd off the couch in excitement. But thanks in large part to his breakthrough victory at The Players Championship in May, he’s set to play on his third squad, in search of his first team win.

While it seems likely he’ll reunite with Watson as a partner this week, American captain Jim Furyk could be well-served to slot them somewhere down in his morning lineup to avoid a Gleneagles duplicate.

“We’re more nervous here than any other tournament, and it’s not the fans. It’s a good thing,” Simpson said. “Everybody that made both teams can deal with pressure. But yeah, the first tee, that environment is fun and a little more – probably a little more nervous there than the second or third hole. That’s why you might see me teeing off on the evens.”